The book of Jonah is quite revealing. The book describes the prophet Jonah’s call by God to preach to the city of Nineveh (a quintessential sin city of antiquity). Jonah initially ran from His call. As a result he spent three days in a big fish before God got his attention and Jonah decided to obey Him. Jonah 1 reveals these 7 interesting life lessons when we run from God.
Several years ago I attended a Rick Warren conference where Mark Beeson, pastor of Granger Community Church spoke. I’d never heard him speak before then, but now ten years later I still remember two qualities about his talk. First, he knew how to tell a funny story. Second, he believed that of his primary roles each Sunday was to be a cheerleader for the people.
Do you ever get frustrated? Yesterday I got frustrated, had a learning experience, and laughed at myself - all in one episode. As I was leaving our house, I forgot to fasten my seatbelt. As I drove down our gravel drive, I tried to fasten the belt but could not get it to fasten. It would not release from the restrainer. That frustrated me. However, when I got on the smooth asphalt road the seatbelt released smoothly. I discovered the rough gravel drive (somehow) triggered the belt mechanism to not release.
I learned several lessons this episode and they are applicable for those of us who serve in ministry. First, and most obvious, do not let your frustration get the best of you. All of us face frustration. Difficult people, frustration with scheduling, ministries that do not go smoothly, church not growing…the list goes on.
There is so much anger and hostility in the Christian community. It sometimes shows up as envy and resentment. At other times it manifests itself as one ups man ship and sarcasm.
Where does it come from?
From hell. From the devil. From the flesh. From unbelief. From mistreatment by professing believers. From bad mental health. From unconfessed sin and from unresolved guilt. You name it.
This morning I read the story of Gideon, once again. After reading that story, I burst out singing the old hymn Wonderful Grace of Jesus.
Let me tell you what I saw in Gideon’s story. Hopefully, Gideon’s story will encourage you. God’s grace encourages, enriches and strengthens us for ministry.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Have you seen any “smoke screens” lately? The term smoke screen originated as a term to describe the masking of the movement or location of military units such as infantry, tanks, aircraft or ships. Since its origin, the phrase has been used to describe any effort at a cover up. This could refer to language, behavior and misleading actions. This phrase is often used to describe human behavior that is not totally honest.
A funny thing happened to me this week. I have been trying to reach a good friend, with whom I speak almost weekly. However, on this occasion we hadn’t spoken in 4-6 weeks. I had tried sending text messages, making calls, and leaving voice messages. During this period he was having phone problems. He was missing calls from me as well as from others.
A few nights ago, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was overcome with a feeling of loneliness. My sons live in Chicago and Southeast Asia. I do not get to see them and their families as often as I would like. My father and only brother are both deceased. They died in 2007 and 2008. My mother and I are the only immediate blood relative family members left. My church is made up of people who are mostly related or life-long friends. These factors could contribute to loneliness.
We all know pastoring is a full-time job. How can anyone, especially Paul, serve as a pastor and hold down a full-time job? Surely, “Paul, Bi-vocational Pastor” must be a misprint. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and have been the great missionary preacher he was. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and written approximately half of the books in our New Testament. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and proclaimed the gospel in all the locations he visited. Yet he did.
Do you ever feel compelled to think outside the box? A few days ago, I felt burdened to minister to a man, who is suffering with severe health issues. Due to my schedule it appeared almost impossible to fulfill this task. My mind went into overdrive and I thought outside the box. I ended up buying my friend a hamburger and visiting with him, over lunch.
God made us to be in relationship with each other. We were made for community and we all want good friends. But what do good friends look like? What do they do or not do? In the most intimate of the 13 letters the Apostle Paul wrote that help form the New Testament, Philippians, we see a portrait of what to look for in a friend. Consider these 5 behaviors that a good friend will consistently live out and ask yourself if you model them as a friend yourself.
(The Shepherds Connection shares this article to give wisdom to all who face such issues.)
If all the questions church people send my way this may be the most difficult.
Our pastor has been here umpteen years. He has lost his vision and his energy, and the church is dying. At what point does a pastor need to be told that his time here is up?
There are no simple or easy answers to this. Handled wrongly, this matter can destroy a church, inflict a terminal wound to a veteran minister, and hurt his family in lasting ways.
A recent husband/wife confrontation left me torn between two extremes, laugh or criticize. This episode went something like this. I came home at the end of the day and had to pick up our garbage can at the end of the driveway. After unloading the garbage can by our garage, I parked my truck in the garage. I mistakenly left the tailgate on my truck down. Leaving a tailgate down is not conducive to lowering a garage door. See where I am going? LOL!